Host: Liveringa Station
Written by Karen O’Brien – Manager, Liveringa Station.
For several weeks at a time (and for three months of the year) our ringers go out to “stock camp”. This means dragging a trailer with supplies and the camp kitchen, otherwise known as “the gypsy wagon” (a rough kind of caravan with an oven/stove, sink, fridges, and lots of food storage space) about an hour out to either “Hardmans” or “McCreas” yards. The ringers will be based here, close to yards in order to be closer to the paddocks being mustered over the coming weeks. This saves on travel time each day, and enables us to make the most of daylight hours.
At the yards, the cattle from each paddock are processed and some weaners and sale cattle are trucked home in Liveringa’s road train (pictured below).
It is pretty basic living – and while most really love it to begin with, eventually the lack of modern facilities coupled with the constant living/working together thing can be trying! Each ringer sets up home in a style that suits them; finding a camp site and making it “their own” (see below)
The shower at Hardmans Stock camp is much coveted, as this shower has a “donkey” – water in the 44 gallon drum is heated (fire built underneath) and gravity fed through a proper shower rose . . . mixed with cold water if needed. Mind you, the shower rose is pretty crusty and the water is from the dam . . . it’s all relative, I guess! It apparently is also much coveted as a home of choice by both frogs and snakes . . .
We try to employ a camp cook for the duration of this time spent camping out. This year we have been lucky enough to discover an amazingly versatile and hard working German girl, Sanja, who originally joined us as a cleaner in a temporary capacity. She is constantly smiling and is loved by a very appreciative crew who all rave about her cooking.
Sanja’s kitchen is pretty basic; all appliances running off a small generator, but she manages to prepare lovely home cooked meals and treats each day whilst still allowing herself some down time listening to music or reading in the afternoons.
Here is what Sanja had to say of her experience with us . . .
Hi, I’m Sanja, a German backpacker, calling Liveringa Station home since the start of May. Driving through Australia and trying to experience the different sides of this huge continent, I now ended up in the Kimberleys, after spending several months in Perth and at the coast of WA. So for the last couple of months I’ve been out on stock camp, cooking for our ringers. As a city person I never thought about sleeping in a swag and showering under the stars in the middle of nowhere. But honestly I have to say, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in life. Being out in the bush probably gives you one of the best impressions of this beautiful country and its remoteness which you would never find back home.
My time here at Liveringa gave me an insight of the rural lifestyle in Australia and therefore I’d like to say thank you to Karen and Jed for giving me this opportunity to really live the (Australian) dream.
While a team of eight or nine ringers (including Head Stockman) go out to stock camp – there are still on average between 15 to 20 casual staff members eating at the main kitchen each day. The cook’s job is HUGE – and we totally appreciate the efforts of every one we have ever had . . . we throw all sorts of challenges at them every day – “Oh, by the way, I just found out there’ll be three chopper pilots and two truckies here for dinner tonight . . . our GM and five VIPs will be here for four days from this Wed . . . and don’t forget to pick up the 10 extra beer cartons we need for the weekend on your town run this Friday . . .”
Sue, who only joined us very recently has this to say of the cooking job here at Liveringa . . .
Hi my name is Sue and I am the new cook at Liveringa Station. My home base is at Buderim on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, where I worked as a nurse in aged care. I have four daughters who are all grown and leading busy lives of their own.
After forty years of caring and cooking for my family and their many friends, it was a real shock to the system when I found myself an “empty nester” . . . so I decided to combine my love of young people and a passion for cooking with my life long dream of seeing our beautiful country.
So, here I am at Liveringa Station, cooking and caring for the most wonderful bunch of people. Being told by Chris, the Head Stockman, that “it just feels like coming home to Mum” when he comes into the kitchen. Lucy calling out “I love you Sue and I love your cooking!” and getting an impromptu hug from Jake just makes my heart sing.
Sue is ably supported by the gorgeous Carmel Hunt – wife of our Station Mechanic and mother to us all! Carmel steps in whenever we need an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, some good cooking advice or someone to simply step in and take over for a while (as was required last week when Sue rolled her ankle). She also manages the difficult task of maintaining a beautifully clean working environment for us all in her role as cleaner.
A few words from Carmel . . .
Carmel & Terry Hunt
Terry loves working here, it was always his dream to experience what life would be like to live and work on a BIG property; so he’s livin’ his dream. He loves the open spaces, meeting people from all walks of life, his shed, and the challenges he faces ordering spare parts, which has enhanced his computer skills.
I too love the laidback lifestyle, meeting lots of different people, and my job cleaning. The heat is a challenge for both of us, so we have learnt different coping skills. We miss our family, but we know we won’t be away from them forever. We Skype and talk to them often.
In the workshop, Terry also supervises an apprentice – Matt, pictured below. Matt is only 16 yrs old and copes incredibly well in his new life, over eight hours from his home town of Kununurra. He is an avid fisherman and spends a lot of his spare time down at the river.
With so many people and so much going on each day I don’t really know where to start – or stop! I guess this is it for another day . . . tomorrow I’d like to introduce you to our ‘ringers’ – the guys and girls who do all the hard work with the cattle.